Beacon Community Study Identifies Keys to Health IT Implementation

August 8, 2014 in News

Developing community partnerships is a key step when implementing health IT to improve safety-net care, according to a study of New Orleans’ Beacon Community, FierceHealthIT reports (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 8/6).

Background

The 2009 federal economic stimulus package included funds for Beacon Community grants aimed at helping health care providers use health IT in their communities.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has funded 17 Beacon communities nationwide (iHealthBeat, 10/20/10). The communities include one in New Orleans, called the Crescent City Beacon Community.

CCBC developed three main initiatives:

  • Using information from electronic health records to implement evidence-based interventions to improve chronic care management;
  • Improving care coordination between various providers, including electronically of notifying primary care physicians about patients’ emergency department visits and using e-referral systems via a health information exchange; and
  • Engaging consumers using a text messaging system to educate residents and connect them with resources throughout the health care system.

The efforts involved more than 150,000 patients and 160 providers.

Details of Study

For the study, Anjum Khurshid and Lisanne Brown of the Louisiana Public Health Institute analyzed the experiences and conclusions of those who participated in CCBC (Khurshid/Brown, eGEMs, 7/29).

According to the researchers, health IT implementation efforts should prioritize:

  • Adapting a conceptual framework;
  • Building community partnerships;
  • Creating a governance infrastructure of stakeholders, particularly with those who have a history of working together (FierceHealthIT, 8/6); and
  • Developing a “learning community” to share best practices and guidelines.

In particular, the researchers wrote, “Building and developing community partnerships takes time and effort; however, these relationships are necessary and essential to introducing and sustaining new technologies in a health care setting and should be a first step for any organization looking to accomplish such goals” (eGEMs, 7/29).

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